The idea of writing your first novel can be overwhelming, especially to those who have never attempted such an endeavor.
When you write your first novel, there are multiple aspects that you need to take care of. At times, you also need some help and guidance on focusing and figuring out how to write a novel and reach your goal.
Here are ten expert tips to help you go from your novel outline template to the completed novel.
1. Fix a Deadline and Decide Your Writing Goal
Having a measurable deadline and goal to achieve is the primary requirement to complete any writing project successfully. To determine the best writing goals and timeframe that works for you, it is essential to think about how much you can write in a day.
While some people strive to write 1500-2,000 words a day, others disregard word count entirely and are more comfortable dividing their days between reading, outlining, or researching.
Irrespective of what you choose, it’s always a good idea to have daily goals to prevent you from getting lost and wasting time. Having a fixed deadline also pushes you to your limits and motivates you to write at times when you don’t feel like it.
2. Make a Checklist of Details
Right from thinking about your novel setting to motivations for writing, everything requires a detailed checklist to ensure that you include all the elements planned in your story.
Your checklist can either be a single page document or an entire journal in itself. The last thing you would want as an author is to finish a manuscript and realize later that you’ve left out half of what motivated you to write in the first place.
3. Get Organized
To have a dedicated writing space is an equally important aspect of writing a great book. If it’s an option, pick an area in the house to designate as your official writing space. Make sure that this is a distraction-free area to allow you to focus entirely.
Wherever you end up writing your novel, it is critical to creating the path of least resistance for getting your work done within the timelines set. This also means ensuring that all the writing tools you need are readily accessible, and the environment is as tidy as possible.
4. Establish the Setting
Defining the context or setting of your novel is essential as it will dictate everything about it, from character to plot, subplots to conflict, and beyond.
In case you have plans to write about a setting beyond your immediate knowledge, make sure you do adequate research about it.
5. Focus on Your Characters
As a first-time novel writer, you need to remember that readers don’t pick up a book just looking for a theme. Every good fiction novel needs a compelling plot and strong character development to engage readers.
It is essential to focus on your main character and make it intriguing enough to sustain a real character arc and supporting figures who can motivate your novel’s subplots off the main story structure.
6. Don’t Stress on Your First Draft
Make sure that you don’t stress yourself too much on the first draft. Generating the initial draft is just an exercise to get everything down together. There will always be time later to reassess and fine-tune what you’ve created.
The first draft of your novel needs to arise from fresh ideas and spontaneity. You can spend more time on the finer details, such as whether you chose the right word or used too many exclamation points at a later stage.
Having a great story in the first place is more critical than self-editing in the first draft.
7. Ending Your Novel
When you reach the end of your story, it is imperative to tie up all the loose ends. Make sure to answer all the questions, theories, and mysteries.
If you have plans to roll out a sequel or make your novel a series, leave enough curiosity to keep your audience wanting more, without leaving too much unresolved or unanswered.
8. Get Feedback
Successful writers always rely on others for feedback on their writing. While for published authors, this person is usually a trusted editor, first-time writers can rely on dedicated writing groups to meet other new writers, share writing advice, and swap their manuscripts.
Alternatively, you can hire a professional to copy-edit and fact-check your novel to correct grammatical and factual errors before final publication.
9. Hire a Professional Editor
One important aspect of getting a novel ready for publication is to hire an editor. While it might cost you some good money, the cost of getting an expert to fine-tune and polish your story is entirely worth it.
Here are some of the types of editors you might want to consider working with-
A copyeditor essentially makes sure that the actual language used in your novel is perfect, keeping an eye out for things like spelling errors, bad grammar, or repetition of words.
A developmental editor will provide a holistic and in-depth review of your novel, along with giving you feedback on everything from sentence structure to problematic characterization.
It is the last stage of editing that provides your manuscript with a final touch, making sure it’s in the most refined form when it hits the presses. A proofreader typically ensures that every word in your novel is spelled correctly and that every sentence is grammatically correct.
10. Getting Published
There are mainly two ways to publish a novel- traditional and self-publishing.
Traditional publishing is a competitive and challenging market to break into as it involves a lot of efforts sending out query letters, examples of chapters, etc. and waiting.
Self-publishing is a relatively more straightforward option and allows you to have complete control of carrying out your editing and cover design. Think through your options thoroughly before deciding what you want to go for.
The magnitude of the novel-writing process can easily overwhelm first-time writers. But if you stay focused on your motive for starting the journey in the first place and don’t let fear stop you, the journey becomes much more manageable.